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  • What is hypospadias?
    • Hypospadias (Pronounced hy-poh-spay-dee-uhz) is a birth defect among boys in which the opening of the urethra is located somewhere along the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This defect occurs when the urethra does not complete its development during the pregnancy.

      CDC’s research and other studies estimate that each year about 3 to 5 of every 10,000 boys born in the United States are born with hypospadias.

  • What problems do children with hypospadias have?
    • The problems that babies with hypospadias will face will depend on the location and severity of the hypospadias. For example, often babies with hypospadias will have a curved penis and bands of tissue connecting the penis to the groin area. Some babies might have a problem with the direction of their urine stream. When more severe cases are untreated, it can lead to problems later in life, such as an inability to perform sexual intercourse, an inability to urinate while standing, and infertility.

      Initial symptoms of hypospadias include:
      * Abnormal spraying of urine, usually downwards, which results in sitting down to urinate
      * Downward curvature of the penis
      * A malformed foreskin that makes the penis look "hooded"

  • What causes hypospadias?
    • The exact cause of hypospadias is unknown, but many scientists believe that genetics, certain environmental exposures, and the body’s hormones might be involved. Studies have found hypospadias to be more common among twins, which suggests a genetic cause. In addition, scientists believe that the level of hormones that make male characteristics (for example, testosterone) might affect the development of the urethra, resulting in hypospadias. Mothers who are exposed to hormones such as progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy might have an increased risk for having a baby with hypospadias. Some women are exposed to these hormones during fertility treatments.

      CDC works with many researchers to study risk factors that can increase the chance of having a baby with hypospadias, as well as outcomes of babies with the defect. The following are examples of what this research has found:
      * No strong link exists between the use of medications for depression and hypospadias.
      * Mothers who take certain hormones (such as progestins) during pregnancy have an increased risk for having a baby with hypospadias.
      * Mothers who are older than 35 years of age, use fertility treatments, or are considered obese have higher risks for hypospadias.
      * There may be a decreased risk for hypospadias among Hispanic women, although more research is needed.

  • Can you treat hypospadia?
    • More severe cases might need surgery to correct the shape of the penis. If surgery is needed, it is usually performed when the child is 6 through 18 months of age. With successful treatment, most males will see improvements in the appearance of their penis and can expect to have normal sexual function as adults.

  • Can hypospadias be prevented?
    • There is no known way to prevent this type of defect, but some of the problems that can occur later in life can be prevented or lessened if the defect is found early.

      Even so, mothers can take steps before and during pregnancy to have a healthy pregnancy. Steps include taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid (400 micrograms), not smoking, and not drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

  • Where can I get more information about Hypospadias?

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Last Revised: January 28, 2014


Data Query

Hypospadias Data Query

Access the hypospadias data in the WI EPHT online database. Review the Data Details tab to learn about interpreting the data.

The WI EPHT website has data about other birth defects:

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the Wisconsin Birth Defects Registry, which is maintained by the Birth Defect Prevention and Surveillance program, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

How does WI EPHT measure birth defects?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • Prevalence rate of live births by geography
  • Number of birth defects by geography

What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

  • The Wisconsin Birth Defects Registry does not currently receive reports from all providers in the state. Thus, the numbers presented here represent only a subset of the actual cases.
  • Reporters have up to two years to provide data to the registry, so some cases from the most recent years may not yet be included in the registry.

There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

  • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
  • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
  • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
  • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements